(this editorial assumes that all features presented during Sony’s unveiling on 02/20/2013 will be present and working in the final product)
It was only a matter of time before the inevitable and we all knew it was coming. Gamers saw the video on the PlayStation YouTube channel while parents read about it in papers or heard about it on the news. No one knew exactly what to expect but everyone guessed that on February 20, 2013, Sony would unveil its next in-home experience, the PlayStation 4. I feel the need to call it an experience versus just a game console because its predecessor has done so much more than just play games since its release in 2006. Last night, Sony did not disappoint as many details regarding the new console were revealed. There was much excitement and some criticism as people around the world watched the event stream live stream from the PlayStation website. Regardless of the fact that we will not get our hands on the final product until at least November, the hype I brewing and I see no end to it in sight.
GOTTA HAVE GUTS The PlayStation 3 is an incredibly powerful device and its processor has been used for everything from the teabagging of opponents to building supercomputers for the U.S. Air Force. The problem was that game developers to this day have had trouble making their games for the system. Sony made it a point to show that they have been listening to developers and claim that making games for the PlayStation 4 will be easier than ever. Details on actual internal hardware were purposely scarce and I will not bore readers with a bunch of technical jargon. If you want all the available details, they are here. Clearly, blu-ray will still be the format for the games we will play, making PS4 the new media center of choice. Multiple processors means that updates and downloads will not keep you from doing whatever you want to do. The PS4 will also save your game position when you power down so that the next time you turn the game on, you can continue exactly where you left off and do so without having to wait for load screens. Considering the track record of the PS3 and how that machine has grown in its six plus years, I have no doubt that these are feats the PlayStation 4 can accomplish.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE Sony wanted to assure gamers that they have also been listening to them while designing the PlayStation 4. Connectivity between home consoles and portable systems has been evolving since the days of the Game Boy Color and the Nintendo 64 so there is no reason to expect any less from the PS4 and PS Vita. Sony however claims that they will take things a step further as there will also be connectivity of the PS4 to cel phones and tablets. I am not sure what they have in mind for that, but I would have to think that the feature set would be less for a cel or tablet versus the Vita otherwise the already suffering sales of the handheld will drop further. Whatever they have in store for us, they made it clear yesterday that their cloud service provided by Gaikai will have a lot to do with it.
PSN TAKES THE GLOVES OFF Let's be realistic, as consoles, the 360 does not hold a candle to the PS3 in terms of what is inside the case. What has kept Microsoft on top is XBox Live. Sony made sure to take some pop shots at their main competitor, saying that the PlayStation 4 will not just be “another box.” What they have planned for the future of PSN is looking to put a serious hurting on XBL. Live has always allowed you to read about what your friends are up to via a short text blurb but Sony intends to let you actually see what they are doing in real time via their profile page. Taking that a step further, you will also have the option to have a full screen “over the shoulder” view of their game. Feeling that was not enough of a combo, players can even stream their game to a group of friends with just the console. The social interaction does not end there as a player can even allow a friend to take over their game to get them past a tough spot. I see the potential for marathon gaming with that feature and I see a lot of fun to be had as Sony aims to finally let us fully interact with our friends.
BACK IN THE ZONE I cringed slightly when they announced a new Killzone live demo. After the fiasco of the 2006 PS3 trailer for Killzone 2, I just felt that maybe Killzone should be announced quietly. Once again, Sony silenced the naysayers as Killzone: Shadow Fall amazed viewers. This time, people feel certain that this is actual in-game footage. The seamless transition from cinematic to gameplay with no (visible) loading and the very smooth game mechanics will ensure a strong following when the game finally releases. Dangling from a troop transport by a rope while shooting the Helghast inside along with the ominous ending to the demo made the internet light up like a Christmas tree.
I GOT THE KNACK While the PS4 will definitely see the return of established PlayStation characters, we were introduced to the newest member of the family, known as Knack. Small as SackBoy, yet packing as much power as Kratos, Knack is the secret weapon of a people trying to survive a brutal war with a ogre-like race. Knack’s ability to grow and shrink in size along with the abilities shown in the trailer make me think of him as a mechanical version of Venom. I have a bad feeling that this one will be another of the console’s very good first-party titles that falls under the radar for being too cute. Let’s hope that Knack lives up to his potential and that my gut feeling winds up being incorrect.
JOIN THE CLUB Evolution Studios may have committed a double homicide. Driveclub combines the beauty of Gran Turismo and Forza and turns the dial up to a million. It combines that with the seamless connectivity of Burnout Paradise and mixes it with the sharing capabilities of Facebook. Ladies and gentlemen, if you are not in the Driveclub, it is time to stop your engines. If this game turns out half as good as it looks then there is a new, undisputed champ in simulated racing when Driveclub releases.
Anyone who knows me knows that I lost it when this came on. The setting is Seattle and we have a new character that appears to have a combination of the powers of Nix and The Beast. I am bummed that my worst fears from the ending of inFAMOUS 2 seem to have been realized. If you don’t know what I mean, go play the game. What we do know is there seems to be some sort of police state and this new character is fighting it. I will be eagerly awaiting more information on this game.
Sony was first to step into the ring, but that does not mean that they will automatically win the fight. During the announcement, we got to see Watch Dogs, Diablo III, Square Enix’ new graphics engine and Deep Down from Capcom. I did not go into depth on these because these games will be multiplatform but I can tell you that Deep Down and Watch Dogs are games to watch if you are fans of sandbox games and or dungeon crawler/Elder Scrolls-type action RPGs. Critics say that Sony is all smoke and mirrors. That could be true, but I always say wait and see. It may not accomplish every single thing that is being boasted and these games might not turn out as great as they look right now, but wouldn’t you rather that all this stuff does come to pass? If Sony pulls this off, they will take gaming and entertainment to a whole new level. Keep your hopes high.